Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

An Update For The Sake Of Updates

June 13th, 2012 | Rachel

I hate the idea of going more than two weeks without posting, but the truth of the matter is my June and July are looking to be a little lackluster… and rightfully so, because I am taking the California bar exam July 24-26 and should be using the next month and a half to study.  As many of you already know, I have already taken and passed the New York bar exam, so this experience isn’t as daunting as it was the first time around.  Preparing for this exam involves learning a lot of information about 17 specific areas of law, and it is not very exciting… so that is all I am going to say about that.

Much easier with a cappuccino

In other news, I’m officially a Californian resident with a Californian license plate and driver’s license!  Having the West Virginia plate (a remnant from when it belonged to my dad) made for an easy conversation starter (“Did you really drive that van all the way from West Virgina??”), but I’m pretty sure the other drivers on the road assumed I was a bumpkin who couldn’t drive.

Officially a California girl

Also newsworthy is Steve’s new apartment in Las Vegas.  He bought it as an investment, but we get to have a sweet party pad for the rest of the year.

We started off one particularly great night at Spiegelworld‘s Absinthe, which was highly entertaining and almost as mesmerizing as the past Spiegelword shows I saw when the tent came to South Street Seaport in New York City.  Absinthe has the human feats of Cirque du Soleil mixed with the sensuality of burlesque, all on an circular stage surrounded a pretty intimate audience (the Las Vegas tent is bigger than the tent used in New York and Miami).  Leading the show are two very funny but very lewd hosts, so if you are easily offended this show is not for you.

Waiting in line to pick up our tickets for Absinthe

Even in Las Vegas people would rather be in France.

Upon the recommendation of our concierge, we went to the Tuesday industry night at Chateau Nightclub (Paris), which is on the roof of the casino under the Eiffel Tower.  Brilliantly fun night.

A nightclub with cotton candy?  Yes, please.

I am looking forward to many more fun nights in that city this year.

While I am on the subject of the pseudo-French, I tried out some macarons at Kelly’s French Bakery here in Santa Cruz.  Working at the Three Green Ducks took my bakery snobbery to almost impossible heights, and, so far, most bakeries in this area have been nothing short of disappointing.  [I’ll save my rant about Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola for another day.]  Kelly’s “French” Bakery is no exception, and in addition to bad service and bagels (why??), my first experience there involved a terrible cherry pie that was made too many days prior and was served straight out of the refrigerator (cold and gelatinous… awful).  Although Kelly’s has managed to make macarons that look right (which I admit is a difficult task), the taste and texture was abysmal, and it hurts my heart to think of all the people whose only experience with French macarons are from Kelly’s (and judging from the gushing reviews it gets, there are many).

Coffee break at Kelly’s French Bakery [sic] in Santa Cruz

The three good things I can say about this bakery are 1. the location is lovely, with a huge court yard and in close proximity to a number of wineries and other shops; 2. I love the font of the sign; and 3. the sandwiches, while overpriced and not very French, are pretty good.

I don’t want to end this post on a cranky, negative note, so check out the gorgeous flowers on Steve’s cactus in the backyard.  Gardening is one of my study breaks, and now that the afternoons are a consistent 72 degrees, the backyard is one of my favorite places to be.

Cactus flower

Well, back to studying.

The Big Cross-Country Move, Part III

February 27th, 2012 | Rachel

My sincere apologies.  You all were probably wondering if I decided to stay in Houston forever!

On the road again… (New Mexico)

The drive out of Texas was arduous and comprised our longest day of driving.  This gave Steve and me plenty of time to finish one of our books on CD (because my minivan is still rocking a CD player), John Grisham’s The Confession.  Pretty good book, by the way.  Much better than the James Patterson dribble that Steve listened to while we were driving through Arizona.

Our next and completely arbitrary stop was Roswell, New Mexico.  We had no idea what actually was in Roswell, but it sounded like a good idea.  It wasn’t until we rolled into town that night and couldn’t find anywhere to eat dinner that wasn’t a chain restaurant that we began to question our trip strategy.  Fortunately, we stumbled up Billy Ray’s and dined on delicious enchiladas.

After a good night’s sleep at the Holiday Inn, we headed back into the heart of Roswell in search of extraterrestrials.  We found more than we could have hoped for at The Alien Zone.  We were the first customers in the door so the owner let us in for free, but it would have definitely been worth the $3 admissions fee.

Alien abductions in Roswell, New Mexico

After Roswell, we headed west, stopping in Albuquerque for lunch and a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway.

Albuquerque as seen from the Sandia Peak Tramway

We had been hoping to squeeze in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona that afternoon, but the distance proved too great and we wouldn’t have arrived until after sunset.  We almost passed up on the opportunity to go to that park since we also wanted to see the Grand Canyon, but I looked up a photo of the park while we were driving, and we both agreed the petrified trees and surrounding desert looked too amazing to pass by.

We stopped in Holbrook, Arizona for the night (which turned out to be a remnant of the glory days of Route 66) and then drove to the park the next morning.

Holy geese, it was breathtaking.

But first, before I enchant you with tales of natural beauty and wonder, I must digress to tell you how the day really started.  This might come as a surprise to some, but apparently being within a loving arm’s length of another person for ten straight days can result in a build up of unexpressed emotions.  And apparently, when one of the two decides she wants to retrieve her National Park Passport from the over-packed minivan but can’t remember which bag or box she put it in and decides to unpack half of the minivan, scattering its contents onto a parking lot in the middle of the Arizona desert and refusing the other person’s suggestion of purchasing a second National Park Passport, this might bring some of these unexpressed emotions to the surface.  Throw on top of that the request by one of the two that the other take his negativity elsewhere because she could do a better job packing anyway, and your inevitable result is a disagreement.  The tiff quickly ended when the self-proclaimed superior packer couldn’t lift one of the bags she unpacked and was forced to humbly request the assistance of the other person, who sweetly complied.  And that was our one disagreement of the entire trip.

I did find my National Park Passport, by the way.

Anyway, back to the beautiful desert.  I’ll give you a peek at the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park, but these iPhone photos won’t do it any justice.  I intend to dedicate a whole post to some of the photos as soon as I get them uploaded from my camera.  As a reminder, you can click on any of these to enlarge.

Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park

After spending most of the day driving through the park, we stopped back in Holbrook for lunch at Joe & Aggie’s Cafe and some browsing at Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Company, which has a great assortment of not only petrified wood but also fossils and other stones.  Steve got a really cool little petrified log that is now sitting on our end table.

That evening, we drove west to the Grand Cayon where we spent a night in the beautiful El Tovar Hotel.  Although the prices there are usually pretty steep, if you call them the night of, you might be able to get their “late night rate” of $100. Perfectly perched on the rim of the Grand Canyon, and with past guests like Einstein and Teddy Roosevelt, the El Tovar Hotel was definitely a highlight of our trip.

Another highlight, the GRAND CANYON!!! *faints in awe*

The Grand Canyon

As with the Petrified Forest National Park, I’m only giving you a sneak preview.  I suspect Steve’s camera best captured the Grand Canyon, so I will have to wait for him to get back before I can steal his photos.

I will say this: the indescribable beauty of the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon inspired a surprising and overwhelming sense of patriotic pride.  We in the United States are very blessed to have these natural treasures, and I think we should be very thankful and proud to have them on our soil.  Last year I had the fortune of visiting Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks, and I hope I will get to visit several others this year.  Besides, my National Park Passport needs more stamps.

We hiked and drove up and down the canyon, stopping to take pictures and marvel at the incomprehensible vastness of the canyon.  After the sunset, we got back the minivan and drove to our last stop before California: Las Vegas!

New York New York

I found us a sweet deal at Palms Casino Resort through Hotel Tonight, and we had so much fun the first night that we unanimously voted to stay a second night.

In front of the fountain at the Bellagio

View of the strip from Ghostbar

We explored the strip.  We met up with my friend Laura from New York and saw the “Show In The Sky” at the Rio.  We ate at a casino buffet.  We had a slightly classier dinner at Little Buddha.  We saved ourselves $160 in cover charges by sweet talking our way into some night clubs.  We had some drinks.  We danced.  It was awesome.

I’ll save California for another entry.  Just thinking about everything we did during those two weeks is exhausting.

I told Steve before we left that I wanted to make the most of our journey from the east coast to the west coast, and I think we succeeded.  I saw some special people, visited some special places, and made a lot of special memories along the way.  It feels like a proper transition into this new life.  Thanks for staying with me along the journey.